RAIL services for a commuter town should improve later in the year with the arrival of newer, faster trains, a Government spokesman has said.

Andrew Jones, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said the introduction of ‘rolling stock’ into service in coming months should make life easier for passengers using Chester-le-Street station.

He was speaking in the House of Commons earlier in the week as part of a debate called for by Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham.

Kevan Jones told ministers people were arriving late to work because of cancelled trains and one constituent turned down a promotion because they could not promise their boss they could come to work on time.

He said: “My constituents have had an appalling experience and rail service through no fault of their own.”

Kevan Jones said the station helped many people from the town get to work across the North-East.

He highlighted problems with trains running late, or being cancelled altogether, since May last year.

Mr Jones said: “Those two things are particularly difficult for people at the two main commuter times: first thing in the morning, when people are keen to get to work at 9am, and in the evening, when people want to get home.

“Commuters often find themselves either late for work because trains have been cancelled, or stuck in Newcastle or other stations further south in the evening with no ability to get home.

“In some cases, people have not made it home until 7pm or later.”

One constituent had reported that seven out of ten commuter trains between Chester-le-Street and Darlington commuter trains had been cancelled in one week.

Another constituent said morning service had been totally cancelled on three out of four days in the last week.

Andrew Jones said: “For Chester-le-Street longer brand new trains will be in service, while on Northern the outdated and unpopular Pacers will be removed by a franchise.

“Passengers using the Northern services in County Durham will see refurbished trains offering increased capacity.

“Nova trains are faster and have more capacity, and we are moving from three to five carriage trains; that means over 150 extra seats. The Pacers will in some cases be replaced by refurbished stock cascaded down from Scotland.

These are class 170 trains which are longer than those they replace; they are increasing in size from 18 metres to 23 metres per carriage, again increasing capacity.”